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ONLINE SEARCH TECHNIQUES: How to Find Subject Headings

Subject Headings from Known Materials

In WorldCat Discovery, on the materials page, just below the image of the item, there is an arrow next to the word "Description". Clicking the arrow expands the description of the item. About half way through is a list labeled "Subjects". Those are lists of subject headings.

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In the EBSCO hosted databases (ATLA with ATLASerials, eBook collections, and LISTA) the subject headings are found within the abstracts (the article descriptions found under the title) after the word "subjects". Within the materials page the subject headings are again listed after the word "subjects".

          

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In the ProQuest hosted databases (ABI/INFORM, PsycARTICLES, et al.) the subject headings are found within the materials pages (you have to pick the article). On the right hand side, in a box labeled "More like this", are a list of subject headings. The other list is at the bottom of the page under "Indexing details". They appear next to "subject".

          

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Subject Headings from within a Book

Inside many books, especially those published in the last 20 years, there is an area designated as "Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication". It is found on the back of the title page. Within that little area is the author, title, publication data (place, publisher and date), as well as a list of Library of Congress Subject Headings.

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You will also find, at the bottom of the section, the call numbers. The first number is the Library of Congress Call number, it will start with a couple of letters followed by some numbers. The second number is the Dewey Decimal Classification number, three digits followed by a decimal and some other numbers.

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Subject Headings from the Library of Congress

In order to find relavant Subject Headings your best bet is to turn to the inventors of the Subject Headings, the Library of Congress itself.

First, go to their website, http://catalog.loc.gov

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Second, click on <Browse>. This will take you to a new page that will have a dropdown box and a search box.

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Third, pick "SUBJECTS containing" from the dropdown box and enter what you believe is a subject heading in the search box.  From that list will be several (possibly 100's, if not 1000's) Subject Headings that contain your word. Notice that some are more relevant than others. You will want to write down those that seem most important to you.

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After looking at "SUBJECTS containing" you may want to try it again, but as "SUBJECTS beginning with". Now your subject is the starting point and all these other subjects are narrower versions of your specific topic. In Library Science you learn to be as specific as possible, so find the narrowest that works. Technically, the number found next to the Subject Heading is the number of titles cataloged by the Library of Congress with that specific Subject Heading.

After those two searches you should have several good Subject Headings to use in our WorldCat catalog, or in any of our databases.

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